RIVERSIDE, CA- Less than five seconds remained in the first Open Division semifinal between top seeded Bishop Montgomery and fifth-seeded Sierra Canyon. Trailing by three points, the official handed Sierra Canyon the ball, and Cassius Stanley threw a full court pass to Duane Washington Jr., who turned and nailed a three-point dagger to send the game into overtime. Two overtimes later, Washington Jr. drove to the basket, scored, and cemented a 77-74 Sierra Canyon upset victory.
“I was able to make two tremendous shots, something I work on every morning in the gym, and it really all just came together for me to make big plays” said Washington Jr.
“Those shots were big, a lot of them were crazy but I’m happy he hit them,” added point guard Scottie Pippen, Jr.
Bishop Montgomery had its 41-game winning streak snapped, despite 26 points from junior guard Gianni Hunt. UCLA-commit David Singleton (14 points) struggled in the first half but caught his rhythm throughout the final two quarters.
“Seeing the ball go through helped, and I got my confidence back,” Singleton said.
Washington Jr. scored 20 points and K.J. Martin put up 18 with 21 rebounds for Sierra Canyon. Stanley, a five-star recruit, posted 18 points and Pippen Jr. added nine points.
“This was one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of, in my entire life,” said Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier, summing up the night perfectly.
Sierra Canyon lost to Montgomery back in January, a game in which the Knights were missing three starters.
“After we lost that game, a lot of people doubted us,” Pippen Jr. said. “Coming into this game, we knew we had to beat them to prove ourselves.”
Late in the second quarter, Washington Jr. blocked a Singleton outside shot and pushed the ball up the floor. Stanley ran the lane in transition and dunked an acrobaddict one-handed alley-oop pass, igniting the Cal Baptist Events Center crowd. Montgomery took a 71-69 lead into the final seconds of overtime, but Pippen Jr. drove to the hoop and dished to a wide open Martin, who scored to send the game into double overtime.
Trailing by one in double overtime with 1:39 remaining, Sierra Canyon stole the ball from Singleton, and a Pippen Jr. miss was recovered by Martin who tipped it in to swing momentum. One play after, a Singleton missed three led to Washington Jr.’s game-sealing layup.
Junior guard Josh Vasquez drilled a three off a Hunt miss to give Montgomery a two-point advantage with under 30 seconds left in regulation. Washington missed a three one possession later, and Oscar Lopez snatched a rebound for the Knights. Fouled in the bonus, Lopez went one-of-two at the line, keeping Sierra Canyon alive down the stretch.
A sloppy first half for Montgomery saw the Knights down by two after one and 12 heading into halftime, a deficit which proved to be crucial in such a tight game. Hunt scored 10 first-half points for the Knights, but the offense was out of sorts.
“We haven’t played like that in a long time and I just thought we looked tentative and unsure,” head coach Doug Mitchell said. “We can’t afford to spot a good team 12 points and then have the game come down to one or two plays.”
Despite the loss, Montgomery is still 26-1 and has a third place game against Etiwanda next up, before gearing up for the state tournament. Sierra Canyon advances to play local powerhouse Mater Dei in the Open Division championship game, next weekend at Cal State Long Beach.